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  • Ashley Brown

The Gift of Giving


As the holy-day season approaches I thought I would share a few ways you can give gifts that are intentional and supportive to our BIPOC community. What is BIPOC? BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. Historically these folks have suffered the most under Colonization, Imperialism and Capitalism.

Somehow these holidays have been traditionally about exchanging gifts during the family and community gathering in these colds winter months have been manipulated into a onetime use, gimmicky, who can out do the Johnson's competition. I am speaking about my pagan traditions that stem from the Celtic path. I cannot speak about what they were or how they were celebrated traditionally as I was not raised in my indigenous tradition nor is it still intact to do so, but I am finding ways to reconnect for personal healing.

As we just moved from Halloween/Samhain (pronounced SAow-when) we moved from the light into darkness. This is the time of the year for introspection and hermitage/hibernation as well as preparation for the rising Sun to greet us again in the Spring. Yule is a holiday/Sabbat on the 21st-23rd of December and is the shortest day and longest night (Winter Equinox). So family gatherings were important during this time of year as this also was a time where illnesses would take some back into the spirit world. During Europeans colonization (of itself) they assimilated folk traditions into the new religion Christianity. I wanted to share all of this with you as Thanksgiving was also assimilated from Mabon the harvest festival where you would put out a cornucopia and fall feast with family and friends (sound familiar?) now we have placed this celebration, on a day we call Thanksgiving, where we ended a massive raid of killing hundreds of Native folks. How many of us were taught about this in school? I wasn't. It wasn't until a couple years ago did I hear and learn about this part of Thanksgiving that made me want to wrap up the whole holiday and move it back to September 21st.

So why am I supporting Capitalism with offering you a shopping guide? Well this isn't a Kay Jeweler's or Macy's kind of list, this is supporting BIPOC folks. So we are breaking away from the Capitalist matrix by supporting BIPOC who would otherwise go unrecognized. Why is it important to support Black, Ingeniousness, and People of Color? Historically we can see that these are the folks who have been and continue to be marginalized by the systematic powers set up to benefits folks who are white. I have been supporting BIPOC for a little while now and the experience and the teachings are different. When you learn from someone who has such a deep felt experience it becomes transferred and a felt experience for me. As a small business owner and freelancer I feel how difficult it is to get your products to sell (because again we live in a capitalist society) but due to the color of my skin I have an advantage compared to my colleagues and teachers (yes, people I study from, who have more experience than me are loosing out on job opportunities). I don't know about you, but I've had enough of one dominate culture, so I'm using my platforms uplift and shine a spotlight on our BIPOC community!

So still wanting to join the capitalist resistance and support and give a form of reparations to our BIPOC family? Wondering how you can get involved with supporting people of color without having to march in the streets? I have SOME ways that you can support small businesses and paying reparations in different ways. Interested? Keep reading!

Black Owned Businesses:

1. Everything Made for You: Owned and operated by Sabrina Johnson. Sabrina is a wonderful and creative human being who started making homemade hair and beauty products while we were dancing together at LINES (maybe even before then). I have recently bought her Love-in conditioner for my husband's beard care, but now I secretly use it after I wash my mane. It's all-natural, chemical free, and handmade with LOVE!

2. The Whorled: Rachel is a fellow graduate of our teacher Nubia Teixeira's Teacher Training program. A yoga sister! I absolutely love her and what she is offering into the world through her surfing, social justice and gifting folks writing and yoga for self-discovery. Her specialty is flower essences. I mean wow! Really powerful and yet gentle scents that calm the nerves and clear the space (no need to sage!).

3. The Vegan Mob: You officially have been invited to the BBQ. My friend and colleague has opened up his pop up food truck project to a full fledged brick and mortar restaurant. Expect to wait in lines especially on a Saturday, but also expect to be in community with so many folks of different backgrounds and Hip-hop music to keep your spirits up during the wait. Don't miss out on the new additions and changes in recipes. The S'mackaroni is so bomb and I do love the Nachos for a pre-movie snack/meal.

*Give Back:

The holiday are hard when you are away from family, it's even harder when your in jail because you can't pay bail. Most folks who are in jail are simply waiting trial because they cannot afford bail. Or as we have seen through Documentaries like When They See Us and 13th, they have been incarcerated simply for being black (Indigenous, or brown). Let's get them out with programs such as these.

Innocence Project

National Bail Out

Want to support our Native community, but don't know where to start? Not sure of who's land you are occupying? Here is a virtual but incomplete list (as the occupation of Europeans grouped different tribes under one name and the Federal Government currently doesn't recognize certain tribes under a certain number of people) you might be living under an umbrella tribe name. In the Bay we all know how expensive it is to live here. Marginalized folks, especially BIPOC, experience this at higher rates.

Indigenous Businesses:

1. Cafe Ohlone: I have yet to try this place out, but it doesn't mean I don't trust it. This is a one of a kind restaurant. NATIVE OHLONE meals, history, and owned and operated by Ohlone chefs. Like whoa. Need I say more? Plan your trip wisely as there are no reservations and they are open only on Tuesdays and Thursdays to guarantee the quality and sustainability of their offerings.

2. Gathering Tribes: This shop is located in the quaint downtown Albany and has been offering traditional Native made art and jewelry (from Alaska to Chile) since 1991. The owner Penny Opal is a Native activist and medicine women who has been a prominent feature in protecting the Earth and her treasures. She recently finished a project involving a medicine walk that happened every month for four years. They walked from the Richmond Chevron refinary to the Martinez refinary. Still looking for gifts go check out their Open House this Friday!

3. Intertribal Friendship House: Here is a place to receive some education about Native folks today, in the Bay Area. Learn basket weaving with them or stay connected to community service or festivities and gatherings. Go and be ready to listen with a deep and open heart.

*Give Back:

Sogorea Te Land Tax. Do you live on Onlone Land (aka the Bay area)? Then add a little tax deductible donation one time or each month.

People Of Color:

1. Dalia Solis: One of my yoga sisters! I love the sweet and deep compassion Dalila brings to each experience of her life. She weaves in her wisdom of Reiki, Earth Medicine, and Ayurveda in each of her classes. Not only does she teach yogaasana at Square One Yoga, but she is also a massage therapist. Just receiving 5 minutes of her touch and your tension turns into butter. Dalila has many other gifts as well.Stay up to date on her offerings.

2. Danvalber: Daniela is one of our fellow Square One Yoga family practitioners. She has found her passion in pottery and may I say she is good at it! Look at her creative offerings on her website. Or better yet go visit her this weekend (11/16/19) at the Renegade Craft Fair SF!

3. Shakti Ganeshan: If you don't know who this delightful and insightful women is...You are missing out. One of my yoga teachers and friends, I learn so much from each class I go to when I visit Shakthi's classes. Through her own lived experience she brings the rice tradition of yoga through every aspect of her class. She teaches at Square One yoga and at Flying Yoga. So go check out one of her public classes for all levels or her specialized prenatal classes on Saturdays. She also works privately.

4. Adrienne Shamszad: Another fellow yoga sister from our Bhakti Nova Collective. Adrienne actually was one of the two people (the other was my teacher) who said I should go through yoga teacher training. I love an admire her full and deep devotion to her spiritual practice which comes in many forms. Her voice is like a nightingale that is ready to take you on an expose of the human condition. Besides teaching yogaasana at Ojas Yoga Center, she also teaches song and guitar, and when she is not teaching she is sharing her gifts to the world on the stage.

5. Eugenia Park: I love the raw and authenticity Eugenia brings into everything she does. Her classes are gentle, but not easy! You will explore the body in different directions with a somatic vocabulary to ingrain the experience. Check out here public class at Ojas Yoga Center. Or treat yourself to her other gifts as a massage therapist.

*Give Back:

Donate to East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. Help keep arts (from all styles and traditions) in our schools, after school, and on-site.

Give Back to India:

If you practice yogaasana (yogic postures) there is so much more to explore and understand. As we have already talked about how colonization brings us into seperation from ourselves and eachother, it also drains our riches. India was one of the richest countries before the British occupation. Today there is a lot I don't understand about India, but all I know is that I can give back. This year alone I have given about $300 (I know it's not a lot, but it's a start) to two specific places.

1. Children of Ma. This is a free school for the children of Maheswar, India. The children at the school not only learn about Western studies, but are deeply connected to their traditional roots of Puja (ritual with prayers), Mantra (sacread sound vibrations), and all encompassing Devotion (Bhakti). By donating you are not only helping the child, but also the teachers, staff, building a new all girls dorm (so the children can live onsite).

2. Dancing Mama's Sari Seva: In India, when a woman is widowed traditionally they are not remarried. These women find refugee in the Lord, specifically Krishna in his childhood hometown Vrindavan. The widows journey to go find safe haven and Mooksha (liberation) when they pass in Vrindavan. They do not have much as they take up a monastic lifestyle after their husbands passing. KD (Dancing Mama KD) gathers funds and clothes to give to these women and children. Support our Mothers.

I know this is a lot to take in and this isn't even a complete list of folks who I can recommend. I hope it's just a starting point for you to dive deeper. I hope you are feeling inspired and hopeful by standing with our BIPOC brothers and sisters we are in fact standing tall, we are fighting climate change, we are chipping away at this toxic culture called colonialism!

White supremacy/Capitalism/Colonialism is just a system that was built on separation, my goal and the goal of yoga is to find union/unification and connection. Let's reconnect, let's uplift each other, let's change and transform the system with our financial actions. Disclaimer: Do not go beyond your means to try to donate and support everyone. I fall into this category so do what you can, when you can, where you can. Be honest (Satya, Truthful) with what and how you can support folks. If there was someone you wanted to connect with directly or you see any error in my information private message me and I will attend to those needs.

Do you have a BIPOC business that you would like to see added to the list? Please add in the comments below or private message me. I would love to add to this list!!!

#support #activism #seva #Karma #yoga #BIPOC #Giving #Colonization #energy #Youth #compassion #work #humility #blankets

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